Image: Valve

Valve is being sued by five disgruntled gamers over Steam’s distribution agreement, which includes an MFN (Most Favored Nations) provision that prevents developers from selling their games for better prices on competing platforms. The complainants allege that Valve is violating antitrust laws and abusing its dominant position to stay at the top of the market.

“The MFN has the effect of keeping prices to consumers high, as price competition by platforms would cause the prices of PC games sold to consumers to decrease,” the group’s complaint reads. “The MFN also hinders innovation and suppresses output, as it acts as an artificial barrier to entry by potential rival platforms and as higher prices lead to less sales of PC Games.”

“In a competitive market unfettered by the Steam MFN, as platforms compete for game developers via lower commissions, the Steam platform would have to either lower its commissions or otherwise increase the value of its platform to consumers. […] The Steam MFN saves the Steam platform from competing on the merits with other platforms.”

As Law 360 pointed out in its coverage, Steam happens to be responsible for roughly 75 percent of all PC games sales, so it’ll be interesting to see how the federal judge reacts to the case. Valve is also involved in a separate legal entanglement over its Steam Controller, which allegedly infringed upon patents held by SCUF’s Ironburg Inventions.

Don’t Miss Out on More FPS Review Content!

Our weekly newsletter includes a recap of our reviews and a run down of the most popular tech news that we published.

Join the Conversation

11 Comments

  1. Non-compete and exclusivity agreements are common place in many industries. At one time you could argue that Steam had a monopoly on digital distribution, but these days it has many competitors.

  2. [QUOTE=”Dan_D, post: 28597, member: 6″]
    Non-compete and exclusivity agreements are common place in many industries. At one time you could argue that Steam had a monopoly on digital distribution, but these days it has many competitors.
    [/QUOTE]

    Yea I have to agree here. This is silly and should go nowhere.

  3. Yeah, I think it would be weird if they didn’t have that. Too easy for a big publisher to make Steam look bad, just put all your titles for cheap elsewhere and then, look! What do you know? Steam is expensive!! Why go there?! Go over here, in cheaper land!.

  4. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 28603, member: 397″]
    look! What do you know? Steam is expensive!! Why go there?! Go over here, in cheaper land!.
    [/QUOTE]
    But that was always fact since I’ve known steam. They used to have terrible prices outside of holiday sales, now even during those. I haven’t purchased a single game on steam in years.

  5. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 28632, member: 1298″]
    But that was always fact since I’ve known steam. They used to have terrible prices outside of holiday sales, now even during those. I haven’t purchased a single game on steam in years.
    [/QUOTE]

    I don’t think Steam controls the price or sale price of games as much as the developer of said games do. Though I do remember hiding from the Internet during Steam sales (Summer and Winter) because my wallet just couldn’t handle buying all the games because they were so cheap. Now, I’ve got over 260 games in my Steam library and I’ve played maybe 50 of them.

  6. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 28632, member: 1298″]
    But that was always fact since I’ve known steam. They used to have terrible prices outside of holiday sales, now even during those. I haven’t purchased a single game on steam in years.
    [/QUOTE]
    Steam gives the publisher control over the price of their games outside of this agreement.

  7. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 28714, member: 180″]
    Steam gives the publisher control over the price of their games outside of this agreement.
    [/QUOTE]
    Well it’s steam who is loosing money, because I’m still getting the games just not from the steam store. So it’s in their interest to have competitive prices, the publisher probably gets the same cut if not more if I buy retail.

  8. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 28716, member: 1298″]
    Well it’s steam who is loosing money, because I’m still getting the games just not from the steam store. So it’s in their interest to have competitive prices, the publisher probably gets the same cut if not more if I buy retail.
    [/QUOTE]
    Publishers and developers have always been free to generate their own Steam keys and sell them independent of Steam to avoid the revenue split.

  9. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 28718, member: 180″]
    Publishers and developers have always been free to generate their own Steam keys and sell them independent of Steam to avoid the revenue split.
    [/QUOTE]
    I know, that’s the difference between epic and steam.

  10. This could be viewed not as Steam keeping prices high, but stipulating that if low prices are offered on other platforms, they must be on Steam, also.

  11. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 28735, member: 1298″]
    I know, that’s the difference between epic and steam.
    [/QUOTE]

    I have a physical CE version of metro exodus on egs so it goes for them too, just that these days there are not many physical copies of pc games anymore.

Leave a comment